Jakub Voracek Emerging as Critical Role Player for Flyers

Jakub Voracek Emerging as Critical Role Player for Flyers

Before training camp got underway, before the lockout even
started, when we were penciling in names for who might replace Jaromir Jagr on
the Flyers’ top line, Jakub Voracek seemed a favorite. It’s been a long time
coming, but when Voracek was paired with captain Claude Giroux on Monday, the
two of them showcased why many observers thought it to be a logical fit.

Voracek assisted on Philadelphia’s first four goals –
including a near hat trick for Giroux – during a 7-0 dismantling of the New
York Islanders, setting a single-game career high in points in the process.
After getting off to something of a slow start, Voracek has surged out to the
club lead in points with 15.

Not surprisingly, Peter Laviolette is expected to stick with
the same combinations
for Wednesday night’s game in Pittsburgh, opting to cease
the juggling act with his lines coming off the Flyers’ most complete effort of
the season. That means Voracek, Giroux, and Matt Read will have their chance for
an encore against one of the NHL’s best teams to this point.

Obviously the Isles thrashing was just one game, coming
against one of the league’s most porous defenses at that, so we don’t want to
get too far ahead of ourselves on what type of production we can expect.
Then again, Voracek always seemed like he could be a good fit with G.

Right as we were beginning to wonder how much the Flyers and
Giroux missed Jagr, Voracek demonstrated why so many thought he could replace
some of that production. While Voracek is not to be confused with one of the
greatest to ever play the game – so this is pretty much the furthest thing from
a direct comparison – he does possess some similar skills, namely his speed through
the neutral zone and strength on the puck.

What has Giroux’s line lacked early this season? Often times
they’ve experienced some difficulty mounting and sustaining an attack – or skating
the puck into enemy territory and then sustaining that pressure. In a word, Giroux’s
line has lacked Jagr, or at least a Jagr-like presence.

Voracek looks like the player on the roster best suited to
fill that role, which he built a very strong case for on Monday. It doesn’t hurt
he has a keen eye with the biscuit, either – his 12 helpers also tops on the
club – and at 49 points he was one of the Flyers' leading scorers last season,
tied for fourth with Danny Briere and Wayne Simmonds.

For now it’s a no-brainer. Voracek will stick with Giroux
and see his ice time increase as long as the production continues, which it has been
no matter who he’s been paired with of late. Previously, he and Brayden Schenn
had been developing some chemistry, and Voracek now has 12 points in his last
nine tilts, including three multi-point games.

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NHL Notes: Islanders fire head coach Jack Capuano

NHL Notes: Islanders fire head coach Jack Capuano

The struggling New York Islanders fired coach Jack Capuano on Tuesday, ending his tenure in the middle of its seventh season.

General manager Garth Snow named assistant GM/coach Doug Weight as Capuano's interim replacement. Snow told reporters Tuesday that the Islanders weren't where they wanted to be in the standings and that everyone's disappointed in their performance his season.

"At the end of the day organizationally I don't think Jack was probably going to be a coach that we were going to bring back," Snow said, adding that the team will begin a full-time coaching search now.

Snow said the halfway point of the season played a role in the timing of firing Capuano a day after beating the Boston Bruins 4-0. The Islanders were 17-17-8 and are in last place in the Eastern Conference with 42 points (see full story).

Predators: Hunt claimed, Fiala sent to AHL
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Nashville Predators have claimed defenseman Brad Hunt off waivers from the St. Louis Blues.

In other moves announced Tuesday, the Predators assigned forward Kevin Fiala to their American Hockey League affiliate in Milwaukee and have placed defenseman Petter Granberg on injured reserve.

Hunt had one goal and four assists in nine games for St. Louis this season. He has appeared in a total of 30 NHL games over parts of four seasons with the Edmonton Oilers and St. Louis. He has two career goals and six assists.

Fiala has six goals and three assists in 32 games for Nashville this season.

Granberg has played in 10 games for the Predators and has 10 penalty minutes.

NFL Notes: Tomlin says Antonio Brown 'foolish, selfish' for live stream

NFL Notes: Tomlin says Antonio Brown 'foolish, selfish' for live stream

PITTSBURGH — The father in Mike Tomlin regrets the language he used to describe the New England Patriots during the postgame speech Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown's opted to livestream on social media after a taut playoff victory over Kansas City.

The coach in Tomlin has just as big an issue with one of his team's biggest stars forcing the Steelers to talk about something other than trying to find a way to finally beat Tom Brady when it counts.

A characteristically blunt Tomlin called Brown's decision to broadcast more than 17 minutes of Pittsburgh's giddy locker room to the world -- a move that caught Tomlin using a handful of profanities -- over Kansas City "foolish," "selfish" and "inconsiderate."

"Not only is it a violation of our policy, it's a violation of league policy, both of which he knows," Tomlin said Tuesday.

"So there are consequences to be dealt with from his perspective. We will punish him. We won't punish us."

Tomlin took responsibility for his choice of words, though he was unaware of being filmed as he spoke.

During Tomlin's brief remarks he attached an expletive to the Patriots, who earned a full day's head start on the Steelers by virtue of beating Houston on Saturday night, 24 hours before Pittsburgh outlasted Kansas City 18-16.

"The responsibility associated with being in this thing, just from a role model standpoint, it's something that I personally embrace," Tomlin said.

"It's something that we as a team and organization embrace. So that's why the language, specifically, in terms of the content, is regrettable," (see full story).

- The Associated Press

Report: Former Eagles DL Clyde Simmons joining Browns' staff
The Sporting News' Alex Marvez reported that the Browns are hiring Clyde Simmons to coach their defensive line.

Since 2012, Simmons has worked as the assistant defensive line coach for the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams under head coach Jeff Fisher and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Fisher was fired by the Rams with three games left in the 2016 season and Williams left Los Angeles for Cleveland, where he will also be the defensive coordinator.

Filling out his staff in Cleveland, Williams appears to be bringing Simmons with him from the Rams. Cleveland.com reported that Williams is also hiring his son, Blake, as the linebackers coach and Jerod Kruse as the defensive backs coach. 

Simmons spent the first eight seasons of his 15-year NFL career in Philadelphia, starting 108 of the 124 games he appeared in. Simmons recorded 76 of his 121.5 career sacks with the Eagles and also forced 12 fumbles, recovering 10, and scoring two touchdowns with the Birds.

- CSNPhilly.com

Broncos: Joe Woods promoted to defensive coordinator
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Broncos coach Vance Joseph has promoted secondary coach Joe Woods to defensive coordinator, replacing Wade Phillips, who left for the Los Angeles Rams.

Woods, 46, was in charge of the Broncos' "No Fly Zone" secondary that led the league in pass defense each of the last two years behind All-Pro cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr., safeties T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart and nickel back Bradley Roby.

Woods has a quarter-century of experience coaching defensive backs including the last 13 seasons in Denver (2015-16), Oakland (2014), Minnesota (2006-13) and Tampa Bay (2004-05).

Joseph said Woods "is ready for this opportunity" and "no one will outwork Joe."

Harris said, "If we had to lose Wade at least we get to keep Joe," (see full story).

- The Associated Press